Sonny Dykes said he would take a hands off approach going into SMU’s Frisco Bowl matchup against Louisiana. He was going to oversee the team, and let Chad Morris’ leftover staff do the heavy lifting.
On second thought, maybe that was a bad idea.
The Mustangs were completely unprepared Wednesday night en route to a 51-10 loss at Toyota Stadium in the inaugural Frisco Bowl.
SMU fell flat in Dykes’ debut. The Mustangs just looked incredibly sloppy from the get go. On the first play, Xavier Jones fumbled the ball and Louisiana Tech recovered. SMU would go on to turn the ball over on each of its first three drives, and on four of its first six. Two of those turnovers were interceptions returned for touchdowns, putting SMU in an early deficit that it was never able to overcome.
“We clearly didn’t play well tonight,” Dykes said in a postgame press conference. “I didn’t do a good job of getting them ready to play.”
However, this loss was not totally on Dykes. He couldn’t anticipate that his record-setting quarterback would have his worst game of the year. He couldn’t anticipate that the offense, which had only lost three fumbles all season, would equal that in one game. He couldn’t absolve the players of the distractions that no doubt surrounded them after their coach up and left for Arkansas just two weeks prior to the game.
Between hiring a staff, recruiting and trying to get adjusted to Dallas, Dykes did not have much time to be a coach. He was simply put into a situation where he could not succeed. Heck, he was still learning his players’ names.
“I can barely remember what happened over the last eight days,” Dykes said. “It’s just been such a whirlwind.”
Thus, while Dykes may have failed in his first game as a head coach, he did so under dubious circumstances. In retrospect, this result was nearly inevitable. There were so many distractions around the program that it was hard to see this game going well for the Mustangs.
All the distractions, all the noise surrounding the program and the departure of Chad Morris certainly went to the players’ heads. With that on their minds, SMU was nearly defeated the moment it stepped on the football field.
So let’s not be too quick to judge the Mustangs’ new coach. After all, it was just one game. As he pointed out, Dykes had no blueprint to build upon over the last few days. This type of situation is a rarity.
“This is a little unprecedented,” Dykes said. “I don’t know how many times this has happened in college football.”
When SMU takes the field on Sept. 1, 2018, against the North Texas Mean Green, the slate will be wiped clean. It will be a new season. The distractions that surrounded the Mustangs during their bowl prep will have long since come to pass.
By then, it will be Dykes’ team. He will have had almost nine months to install his system, to craft the team in his image. He hopes the team will be bigger, faster and stronger. Dykes thinks that after tonight, his team has nowhere to go but up.
“I think we have very, very bright future,” Dykes said. “This game, I hope, is just one of those things that happens sometimes.”